The UN expert panel stated that North Korea has accumulated $316 million in cryptocurrency from various cyber attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges and financial institutions. The team also investigated a $281 million cryptocurrency transaction hacking activity involving North Korea.

UN expert panel sheds light on North Korea’s cyber attacks

The UN team of experts has submitted a draft report to the Security Council’s North Korea Sanctions Committee to review the measures taken against North Korea. The Nikkei Shimbun stated that it had obtained a copy of the document and pointed out that the document will be publicly released after discussion and revision by the member states of the council.

The report stated that North Korea had “the total theft of virtual assets from 2019 to November 2020 of approximately US$316.4 million”, and the identity of one country is unknown. According to the report, North Korea allegedly used cyberattacks on financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges to make money to support its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

In addition, the team also revealed that it has investigated the malicious activities of North Korea’s main intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, an entity on the UN sanctions blacklist. Its activities include “targeting virtual assets and virtual asset service providers, as well as attacks on defense companies.”

“A preliminary analysis based on the attack vector and subsequent efforts to launder illegal proceeds strongly demonstrates ties with North Korea [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]”, the UN expert said.

In addition, the team stated that it is investigating a hacking attack on a cryptocurrency exchange in September 2020, during which approximately $281 million in cryptocurrency was stolen. Blockchain data analysis shows that the hacking is related to the second hacking in October 2020, in which 23 million USD was stolen. It is believed that the $281 million hack was an attack on Kucoin, a cryptocurrency exchange.

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The report further outlines how North Korea continues to launder money by converting fiat currencies into fiat currencies such as U.S. dollars through over-the-counter (OTC) brokers in China.

In its previous report, the UN expert team found that North Korea had accumulated US$571 million in hacking crypto exchanges and companies between January 2017 and October 2018.

What do you think of the findings of the UN expert panel on North Korea and cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.

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